People should be nervous when they go to Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) for a simple piece of legal work. It is a smart move to hire the greatest legal mind in Los Angeles to straighten out a purchasing agreement. But the strange consequence is how a few minutes later these contract law clients call up Perry Mason from the police station hoping he’ll handle their homicide case. What are the odds? All those familiar with the series remember Perry’s amazing batting average against the D.A.’s office on getting clients sprung from all charges. Hard to not contemplate if these people wouldn’t have been pinned on a murder if they hadn’t stepped into the lawyer’s office. Did Perry Mason curse his casual clients. Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 1 has 15 more cases that can be entered into evidence to this phenomenon.
“The Case of the Missing Melody” invites Perry and Della Street (Barbara Hale) to a wedding. This should be a relaxing episode. During he ceremony, the bride bolts. What could cause such a thing? Turns out that among the something borrowed and something blue, she saw something incriminating. Turns out her sister hit a Las Vegas hotel with a musician named Bongo White. The blackmailer turns up dead and the wannbe groom is the suspect. Bongo is played by real life musician Bobby Troup. He wrote the song “Route 66″ before becoming a doctor on Emergency. It’s up to Perry to makes sure he won’t be RSVPing his client for the gas chamber. Jazz legend Barney Kessel pops up. “The Case of the Crying Comedian” is a sob story. Famous comic Tommy Noonan tracks down the girl he left behind. Turns out she’s married, but the guy is a complete jerk who just wants her money. She’s been stuck in the looney bin. She wants to reunite with Tommy. It looks like she’s gone over the edge and frees herself up by killing her husband. Tommy’s manager is played by Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester).
“The Case of the Pathetic Patient” doubles up the crimes. Originally the episode is about a doctor being threatened for malpractice for not noticing a broken hip. Frank Cady (Green Acres‘ Sam Drucker) limps about wanting a fat payday. Perry brings in P.I. Paul Drake (William Hopper) to investigate Cady. This is not a simple matter of a doctor scam when the body of the doctor’s radiologist turns up in an office planter. Once more Perry gets a homicide case. “The Case of the Posthumous Painter” lets an artist fake his death to increase the value of his work. Like Tupac, he keeps painting in the after world. He doesn’t let his wife in on the scheme so when she discovers him alive, it’s not a happy reunion. He ends up getting his wish of being a popular dead artist. She hopes Perry Mason can paint a masterpiece of an excuse to keep her from being string art in the state pen.
“The Case of the Unwelcome Bride” turns a family gathering into a quicky divorce offer. A rich father is upset that his son has married beneath his class. The dad believes all of his son’s failures are because of his love for her. He offers his daughter-in-law a sizable payment to lose the last name. He offers to make his son part of his company. He had Perry Mason draw up the paperwork. The couple refuse. Later in the evening, the son is found dead with his wife holding his lifeless body. Perry takes her on as a client. Her alibi that she wasn’t in the house at the time of the killing of a nightclub patron played by Alan Hale (Gilligan’s Island‘s The Skipper). The rich guy’s son-in-law is DeForest Kelley (Star Trek‘s Dr. McCoy). Could Bones have killed a man? Shame he couldn’t have hired Denny Crane as his lawyer. “The Case of the Roving River” sends Perry to the Manzana Valley to work on a land dispute. The curse strikes when a witness gets blown up. Perry’s client becomes the prime suspect. Guess who gets the gig representing him in criminal court.
Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 1 gives us plenty of instances when a person in need of simple legal help gets turned into the prime suspect of a homicide. Is this really a curse of working with Perry or is this some sort of scam? Does he have a deal with Lt. Tragg (Ray Collins) and D.A. Hamilton Burger (William Talman) to immediately suspect his casual client to turn them into a major cash cow? Maybe when he’s not on camera, Paul Drake is planting red herrings that almost incriminate Perry’s pals? Maybe this is the secret of how Perry Mason only lost one case on TV. Although setting up his clients doesn’t explain how he has a knack for exposing the guilty parties in the courtroom.
“The Case of the Jealous Journalist,” “The Case of the Impatient Partner,” “The Case of the Missing Melody,” “The Case of the Malicious Mariner,” “The Case of the Crying Comedian,” “The Case of the Meddling Medium,” “The Case of the Pathetic Patient,” “The Case of the Traveling Treasure,” “The Case of the Posthumous Painter,” “The Case of the Injured Innocent,” “The Case of the Left-Handed Liar,” “The Case of the Brazen Bequest,” “The Case of the Renegade Refugee,” “The Case of the Unwelcome Bride” and “The Case of the Roving River.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers once more look great with very little futz on the screen. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. You’ll be able to hear the guilty party suck in their breath before they confess to being the real guilty person.
Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 1 gives another 15 episodes of the most entertaining legal series of all time. Each case keeps up the mystery till the end of the trial when somebody confesses to the truth of the crime. How Perry does this remains the biggest mystery, but that’s why he can charge a lofty price for his services.
CBS DVD presents Perry Mason: Season 5, Volume 1. Starring: Raymond Burr, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins and Barbara Hale. Boxset Contents: 15 Episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: April 20, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.